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Viewing cable 08NEWDELHI882, TIBET CLAMP DOWN AND PROTESTS PUT INDIA IN

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
08NEWDELHI882 2008-03-26 12:12 2010-12-16 21:09 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy New Delhi
VZCZCXRO5000
OO RUEHBI RUEHCI RUEHCN RUEHDT RUEHGH RUEHLH RUEHPB RUEHPW RUEHVC
DE RUEHNE #0882/01 0861245
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
O 261245Z MAR 08
FM AMEMBASSY NEW DELHI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 1064
INFO RUCNCLS/ALL SOUTH AND CENTRAL ASIA COLLECTIVE IMMEDIATE
RUCNARF/ASEAN REGIONAL FORUM COLLECTIVE IMMEDIATE
RUEHOO/CHINA POSTS COLLECTIVE IMMEDIATE
RUEHZJ/HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL COLLECTIVE IMMEDIATE
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC IMMEDIATE
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC IMMEDIATE
RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHDC IMMEDIATE
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC IMMEDIATE
RHEHAAA/WHITE HOUSE WASHDC IMMEDIATE
Wednesday, 26 March 2008, 12:45
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 NEW DELHI 000882 
SIPDIS 
SIPDIS 
EO 12958 DECL: 03/25/2028 
TAGS PREL, PREF, PHUM, CH, IN 
SUBJECT: TIBET CLAMP DOWN AND PROTESTS PUT INDIA IN 
DIFFICULT POSITION
REF: NEW DELHI 850
Classified By: Acting Political Counselor Atul Keshap for reasons 1.4 ( b and d)
1. (SBU) SUMMARY: Tibet remains a front-burner challenge in New Delhi more than 10 days after protests at the Chinese Embassy and a protest march out of Dharamsala led to the arrest of over 200 Tibetans. After another protest at the Chinese Embassy led to more arrests on March 21, the Indian press reported that Chinese Foreign Ministry warnings led the Indian government to back out of a “tentative” meeting between Vice-President Ansari and the Dalai Lama. The BJP and RSS smell blood as a result of the government’s caution, while the normally meddlesome Left has kept a stony silence on China’s actions in Tibet. Tibetan sources report that 70 of 140 protesters arrested in Delhi remain in detention as of March 26, despite an assurance from Foreign Secretary Menon to the Ambassador on March 19 that all those arrested before then would be released that day. The Dalai Lama’s Special Envoy told Poloff that the Tibetan Government-in-Exile was satisfied with the Indian government’s statements to date on the situation, and suggested that the USG positively acknowledge India’s statement rather than press the GOI to be more forceful. He said that he hoped that President Bush will issue a statement “sooner rather than later,” and added that the Dalai Lama had sent a personal letter to Chinese President Hu Jintao. Responding to criticism that the U.S. was applying pressure, External Affairs Minister Mukherjee said “They (the U.S.) have expressed their views. They are not putting pressure (on India).” India continues to walk the razor’s edge between Beijing and Dharamsala. It cannot afford to antagonize the former, but it has a sacred obligation to the latter. END SUMMARY
----- Protesters scale perimeter wall at Chinese Embassy -----
2. (SBU) Five members of a group of Tibetan demonstrators breached the perimeter wall of the Chinese Embassy in New Delhi on the night of March 21. The report said that the five protesters were detained along with thirty-three others before any untoward incidents occurred. The Dalai Lama’s Representative in New Delhi, Tempa Tsering, told Poloff on March 26 that seventy of the 140 Tibetans held in Delhi since March 14 have been released to date, noting that several of the March 21 protesters were injured. According to “The Indian Express,” the Chinese Foreign Ministry summoned Ambassador Rao in Beijing to voice their concern for the safety and security of its diplomatic personnel in Delhi and handed over a list of Tibetan protests likely to take place in India prior to the Olympics, which the Chinese asked India to act upon. “The Hindustan Times” quoted the Chinese Ambassador to India Zhang Yan as saying, “I hope Indian friends see through the nature of his (the Dalai Lama’s) intentions and not be misled and make correct statements based on facts and deeds, not words.” Zhang added that, “He (the Dalai Lama) used non-violence to cheat the international community.”
----- Indian Vice-President not to meet with Dalai Lama -----
4. (SBU) “The Indian Express” citQsources in a March 22 report as stating that Vice-President Hamid Ansari’s meeting with the Dalai Lama, scheduled two months previously, was canceled after Chinese pressure precipitated the GOI to advise Ansari’s office to cancel the meeting, although the news item quoted GOI sources as saying that the meeting was “only tentatively scheduled.” Referring to the Dalai Lama-Ansari meeting, the “Zee News” portal quoted Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesman Qin Gang as declaring that, “The Indian side has clarified to China on the relevant rumor, saying that there is no such plan.”
----- Tibetan government-in-exile satisfied with GOI statements -----
5. (C) Special Envoy of His Holiness the Dalai Lama Lodi Gyaltsen Gyari expressed satisfaction with GOI official statements to date, noting that “They have their own understandable compulsions, and it’s better than the past when no statements were issued.” He expressed his belief that it would be beneficial for the USG to positively acknowledge India’s March 15 statement that, “We are
NEW DELHI 00000882 002 OF 002
distressed by reports of the unsettled situation and violence in Lhasa, and by the deaths of innocent people. We would hope that all those involved will work to improve the situation and remove the causes of such trouble in Tibet, which is an autonomous region of China, through dialogue and non-violent means.” Gyari speculated that positive reinforcement may motivate the GOI to issue further statements in support of the Tibetans. He revealed that a private communication from the Dalai Lama to Chinese President Hu Jintao was received by the Chinese on 20 March, and the Tibetan government-in-exile was waiting for a response. Gyari stated that he had shared the letter with Undersecretary Dobriansky, contacts at the NSC, and Indian Foreign Secretary ShivShankar Menon. He commented that he planned to meet with Indian National Security Adviser M.K. Narayanan on 24 March but did not disclose the agenda for the discussion. Gyari opined that a statement from President Bush would give the Chinese reason for pause and emphasized that, if forthcoming, the statement would be “most beneficial sooner rather than later.”
----- BJP blames Nehru for current Tibet morass -----
6. (SBU) Tibet has become a domestic political issue again in recent days, as posturing for the upcoming general elections continues. On March 25, India’s Zee New portal reported that the Bharatiya Janata Party prime ministerial candidate L.K. Advani blamed former Congress Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru for adopting a “weak stance” on Tibet in the 1950s, stating that, “the Nehru government’s failure to focus on India’s diplomatic efforts, while simultaneously strengthening its military capabilities, to deftly resolve the boundary issue with China,” directly contributed to the current state of affairs in Tibet. He hailed the BJP’s Vajpayee administration as engineers of the current progress in India-China relations, adding that he urged Chinese President Hu during his November 2006 India visit to arrange for the Dalai Lama to visit Tibet prior to the 2008 Beijing Olympics. Assailing the Congress Party’s passive reaction to China’s repression in Tibet, Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) Chief K.S. Sudershan condemned the “atrocities perpetrated on the peaceful protesters” in Tibet and proclaimed that, “these demonstrations have completely betrayed the hollowness of Chinese claims that under her occupation Tibet has witnessed all-around development and that the people are happy with the regime.” Broadsiding the Congress Party, Sudershan pledged the RSS’s full support for the Tibetan cause and urged the world to “exert such pressure over the Government of China that it is forced to come to the negotiating table to find a peaceful solution to the Tibetan crisis.” Meanwhile, the Left, ready at all times to comment negatively on anything relating to America, remains absolutely silent on the Tibet issue, preferring to stand by CPI-M leader Sitaram Yechury’s hypocritical March 17 statement that the CPI-M was unable to comment as Tibet was an “internal matter” for China.
----- India keeps a finger to the wind -----
7. (C) COMMENT: The words “tightrope” and “balancing act” are constantly repeated in Delhi regarding the Indian government’s handling of Tibetan protests. As Foreign Secretary Menon explained to the Ambassador, the Tibetan
SIPDIS movement has the sympathy of the Indian public, and India has been a generally supportive home to tens of thousands of Tibetans, including the Dalai Lama, for nearly 50 years. However, the tacit agreement that Tibetans are welcome in India as long as they don’t cause problems is being challenged at a time when India’s complex relationship with Beijing is churning with border issues, rivalry for regional influence, a growing economic interdependence, the nascent stages of joint military exercises, and numerous other priorities. While the GOI will never admit it, we expect New Delhi’s Balancing Act with India’s Tibetans to continue for the foreseeable future, with the caveat that a rise in violence -- either by Tibetans here or by the Chinese security forces in Tibet - could quickly tip the balance in favor of the side with greater public support. END COMMENT MULFORD